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Under the Influence

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Under the Influence,  with Terry O’Reilly,  is a weekly show on CBC radio  that explores the subtle shifts in marketing that have taken place over the past years.  His hypothesis is that marketing used to be based on the hard sell, and has shifted over the years and has become a dialogue between consumer and seller.  He believes that customers are sold  by “being influenced”, hence the name of his show.  His most recent show, on Tourism Marketing , aired on Saturday April  11 and can be found on line at -marketing.  It is a fascinating exploration of how several  cities and countries around the world have convinced people to travel to their area.  He acknowledges that tourism marketing is one of the most challenging areas of marketing.   On the show he profiles some very creative and successful marketing success stories from Las Vegas, Iceland, New Zealand, Queensland Australia, and Kazakhstan.  Anyone interested in tourism marketing should listen just for another perspective.  What stood out most from the show for me,  was when O’Reilly  said the best tourism campaigns capture the emotion of the destination.  People love stories and they will go to a place where there is a story.  O’Reilly says that the best tourism campaigns take the potential visitor on a journey before they even get to the destination.  The stories of the places I mentioned above are so interesting and it’s worth listening to the show to hear them.   This idea made me think about the stories that we tell each other about our lives in Haliburton County, and the stories that we tell through our marketing.  One story that I  would love to end  is the one that gets told over and over again about us being the poorest county in the province.  I’ve listened to that for 25 years and it does nothing to inspire me about Haliburton County as a place to visit or to re-locate to. Who wants to travel or live in a place where their story is that they are  poor?    Of course we don’t put that in our marketing material, but we are reminded of it often and it just isn’t helpful in promoting tourism or when looking at economic development for our county or municipality.  If we want people to  move or visit here, I think we need to tell other stories.  My one friend  suggests that we talk about how resilient our county is.  How we do much because of our incredibly rich volunteerism, creative passion,  and our caring way of living and looking after each other.  Another friend of mine suggested that it would be great to do a focus group with people who have moved to Haliburton in the last 5 years and ask “why did you come, and what do you need to stay?”  There are lots of examples of successful business people (Craig and Colby at B&B,  Pasi Posti from Positive Media) who have chosen to move to Haliburton and start a new business or re-locate their business.  What is their story?  Why did they come and what do they need to stay.  What about the newest doctors who have moved here in the last few years?  What are the Armstrong’s and Suke stories about how they chose to come here?   I’m sure they could have chosen anywhere in Ontario or Canada to work and raise a family.  Maybe we grow the county 1 story at a time!

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